Paris, Mexico City, Cape Town, Auckland, London, Los Angeles: just six of the 15 world cities that have signed a pledge “to ensure that a major area of our city is emission free by 2030.” Notably absent from the list? San Francisco.
The C40 Cities Fossil Fuel Free Streets declaration is part of a set of commitments that global cities are making to combat climate change at this week’s Global Climate Action Summit. Cities that sign on are pledging to “reduce the number of polluting vehicles on our streets” and “increase the rates of walking, cycling and the use of public and shared transport that is accessible to all citizens.” San Francisco may be hosting, but we have yet to make the commitment to increase space for people walking, biking and taking transit. As longtime advocates for biking, walking and transit, we’re embarrassed for our city this week.
Exhaust from cars and trucks is the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions in San Francisco, a figure that has remained stubbornly static over the past decade. Now, at a moment when the world is watching, we have a chance to be a real leader and make a meaningful commitment to reduce the amount of CO₂ put into our atmosphere.
Imagine Mayor London Breed standing in front of leaders from across the globe and declaring that significant portions of Golden Gate Park will be car-free, or that Better Market Street is on track to break ground in 2019 and will make San Francisco’s main thoroughfare emission-free. There is still a chance for us to be the forward thinking city the world expects us to be, and we are asking our leaders step up to the challenge.